NoÃ© Gutierrez – What needs to change
I’ve known Noé for a number of years, and this recent piece of his on exgaywatch.com has some really important points about the future direction of ministry amongst LGBT. Noé’s site is Deep Blue Fusion and is well worth checking out.
Ex-gay ministries depend on certain adversarial elements to inspire the commitment of their members. Although the majority will agree their members did not have a choice in their homosexual feelings, ex-gay ministries emphasize choice as the key factor in the re-orientation of these feelings. Biblical emphasis on purity, chastity, and self-sacrifice give the ex-gay person a sense of process. By making consistently “biblical” choices in the expression of their sexuality, the ex-gay person can experience a level of “freedom from homosexuality” albeit paid for in their own blood, sweat and tears.
As if it weren’t enough to instill such burdensome expectations, the constant emphasis on thought and behavior modification will in most cases develop into a deep-seated internal conflict. If feelings of sexual attraction are not a choice but acting on them is, the split between feelings and actions can leave a person feeling segmented, even disconnected from their true self. Ex-gay groups affirm this disconnect in their members, perhaps unwittingly convincing them heterosexuality is within their reach. If groomed properly, this disconnect can become so pronounced that in some cases the “reformed” homosexual will in fact be so far removed from their sexual attractions that to say they are “no longer gay” seems perfectly within reason.
In my opinion this may be one of the greatest flaws in ex-gay doctrine; that is, the idea that heterosexuality can be arrived at through the process of distancing one’s self from what are natural, intrinsic feelings of attraction. This is just not the norm in the process of development in human sexuality. In fact it is quite the opposite, as most people would agree a person’s sexuality is at the center of their identity and of the human experience. Self-dissociation from this core element would therefore lead to a loss of identity rather than the discovery of true self. I believe it is for this reason that those who subscribe to ex-gay thinking must remain connected somehow to ex-gay ministries in order to remain “ex-gay”. Without a strong internalized sense of self-identity, a person becomes dependent on external cues to help define their experience. The idea of the heterosexual goal must constantly be repeated, reminded, and reaffirmed. Group accountability sessions, prayer meetings, national conferences and the never-ending list of books, CDs, DVDs are resources proving vital to the survival of ex-gay ideology. I am personally acquainted with the prominence of ex-gay media (see I Do Exist) and can attest to the importance of their role in helping to promote the ex-gay movement.
Noé raises a crucial point that the emphasis on "achieving heterosexuality" within many ex-gay groups is what sets many up to fail. If one doesn’t become straight, has one failed? Is that even what one needs to be aiming for?
That was part of my switching to the terminology "post-gay" as described in this post. The end target for those who struggle with same-sex attraction, or any emotional or sexual issue isn’t "straight" or "good sex" or any other similar concept. It is Jesus and holy living, the fundamentals of orthodoxy (as it were).